The silver haired 20-year-old singer/songwriter has an awkward laugh when I ask him if he likes tea or coffee. “I don’t like either of them. I prefer fresh juice and watermelon,” says Yabesh Thapa.
‘Lakhau Hajarau’ released in 2020 was Yabesh’s first single, a song that became an instant hit. The acoustic beats of the song are a stark contrast to his recent upbeat release ‘Dui Diney Jindagi’. “The idea is not to evolve as an individual,” he says, “but as a collective. When I evolve, I want my audience to evolve with me.”
Talking more about his music, Yabesh says, “I am always experimenting and trying to find new ways to reach my audience. Due to this, the style of every song varies. I do not expect everyone to like what I do, because people do not think the same. There is a new wave of music forming in Nepal, which is slowly mixing acoustics with other genres.”
Yabesh has his own ideas about how to handle criticism: “Learn not to expect.” He says that whenever he releases a song, he does not think about whether the song will be a hit or not. He just puts it out there, and leaves it to fate. I simply take the criticisms constructively. My work is trial and error. I do not just want the highs, I want the lows too. My career should be a curve because I think that is more healthy,” reveals the singer.
Everyone gets fed up with monotony after a while, and that is not what Yabesh wants. He experiments with his music so that he along with his audience gets a different flavor every time. With each song, the elements, and the spice are different.
Yabesh plays basketball, hangs out with friends, and plays games on his console. Once you are famous your life is in the public eye. But Yabesh thinks otherwise. He believes he’s a private person. He understands that being popular sometimes limits one from being their true self in the public sphere, but he has learned to cope with it with time and the support of his friends.
Social Media has revolutionized the music industry and music has become accessible to more people and a platform has been created for conversation; a place for discourse has been formed. “I do get a lot of criticism, but I do get a lot of love too. The thing is to take the criticism in a good way. To not get de-motivated,” says Yabesh.
“I was returning to Kathmandu from Sikkim when we made a stop to eat and a woman recognized me and offered some non-alcoholic beer. This was a very heartwarming experience for me because I would never have expected someone in a place this far and this rural to recognize me,” recalls Yabesh talking about his most memorable experience while on a shoot.
Yabesh dropped out of college during his first year studying Computer Applications. He does want to have a higher level of education in music but does not think that now is the right time. He believes that to do so, he has to put his music on hold, which he does not want to do right now. He does plan to take online courses for music production in the near future.
Talking about taking the music to the next level, Yabesh thinks that the next big step for Nepali musicians is to take a look at the Indian market. He wants to learn how they produce, how they record, and the techniques they use to put out their music. He does want to collaborate with Badshah but wants to work his way there.
Yabesh will soon be releasing his first-ever album ‘Ghaam Chaaya’ in mid-2023. “The album will be different; some songs are very upbeat while some are sad, but a lot of effort has been put into the making. The idea of releasing albums is still not that popular in Nepal, as artists here prefer singles over albums. And I hope that the songs in this album will be liked by the listeners,” says Thapa.
What genre is your music?
My music may be pop/aucostic for now, but I do try to experiment with many different genres such as Afro and future beats. But I do remember my roots, which are acoustic. Also, I have been trying to put that into the music I make now.
Do you want to go into the International Music Industry?
Yes, for sure. I grew up listening to music; all the different genres and was always mesmerized by the glamour, the style, and the production that they put out. I’ve wanted that for as long as I can remember.
How do you feel that the Nepali music industry is different from others?
For me, I’d say production-wise, from shows to music video productions. In Nepal, we still do not have the proper crew to put together a video shoot. But we are getting there.
Who do you look to for inspiration? And why?
Jeremy Zucker is a one-man army. He writes, composes, and produces his songs by himself. I tried to do that, and I know that it is no easy task. He makes it look so simple and does it seamlessly. The best part about his songwriting is that the words are not heavy, but they hit you very hard, straight to your heart.
The music that he put out was very different than what was out there. I first started listening to him in 2017, and three years later I got enough motivation to drop my first single. But preferences change over time and I may be shifting towards other inspirations, but the impact that he had on my life is something I am never going to forget.
International artist that you would want to work with?
Jeremy Zucker is an American musician that I discovered in 2017. Who actually was the reason I got inspired to put out my first song.
Do you want to be an influencer?
No, not really. Because i feel it is a huge responsibility. We are all humans after all, and we all make mistakes. What if I say something unpleasant and it haunts me for life. The thought of it is itself scary. Plus, I follow a lot of Hollywood media and see that one word can change an entire career. So, I don't think that I want to be one. At times I do have to speak up, but I don't think I want to be an influencer; I am happy being me.
Best advice that you have received?
It was from Jyoti dai, the owner of Class X Presentation. It was during a time when I was mentally affected by my parent's resistance to me pursuing music. He told me then that you don't need to prove your parents wrong, just prove yourself right. The words were simple but heavy on my heart, and I set out to do just that. And now things are good and my parents are also very supportive of my career.